Illegal tax collection to blame for higher food prices, says Achuil

Illegal tax collection to blame for higher food prices, says Achuil
In April heavy trucks en route Juba via Nimule halt travel as drivers protested insecurity (photo credit: Africa Freedom Network)

Illegal fees charged by the police and customs officials at the border points are to blame for the run-away commodity prices in South Sudan, the finance minister has said.

While appearing before a committee of Parliament, Agak Achuil, said that traders are charged exorbitantly at the point of entry and the money collected does not reach the government.

“Most of the prices are going up because of the war between Ukraine and Russia. This has affected fuel prices because refined [oil] products have gone up and the food prices that we import from other countries are coming in at higher prices.

“Transportation plus illegal collection being done on the way are some of the things that increase the prices [of food]. We have to come up with a way to find the mechanism between the institutions that are collecting [taxes] such that we can come up with an agreement on how to tackle these issues,’ Achuil told journalists.

Achuil was among the three ministers summoned by the Specialized Committee on Finance and Planning, to explain the higher food prices.

“We need to know exactly why prices are up,” Changkuoth Bichiock Reth, chair of Specialized Committee on Finance and Planning said.

“We have found out that there are some collections that are being done in Mombasa [Kenya]; some in Nimule, that are not in the financial bill or financial act,” added Changkuoth.

Achuil further added that when you charge higher taxes, the final consumer is forced to incur additional expenses as the trader simply passes it down to buyers.

“There were concerns from MP about these collections which are going on and they are not in the financial act. Some of the [collections] were found to be illegal.”

Traffic police have been running an advert in local dailies announcing new rates for vehicles coming and leaving South Sudan.

According to the notice, each vehicle will have to pay 100 USD one-time fee for the whole year and an additional 60 USD every time you enter or leave the country.